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Simon Armitage

You pull onto the soft verge

And the tyres slacken into the dirt.


I pass the field-glasses

From the glove compartment

And you fumble, finding a focus

Through the action of the wipers


And describe it to me: how it

Hangs in the shallows, shaking the rain

From its featherings. How it watches,

Then cautiously adopts


Its fishing position, then wades

Thoughtfully forward, then holds again.

You go on piecing out the picture

And I affect not to listen


Until you put the glasses down

And I realise you’ve stopped talking.

We sit there, breathing, steaming up

The windows and watching


As the heron feints

To a fleck on the line of the lake

Like a wood-chip flaw

On slate Ingres paper


And the hilltops are water-marked

If we look hard enough.


From The North No 1 (1986)

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